Social Media– The Darwin Doom: Evolve, invest… or die.

It is happening. Campaigns with a heavy social media component, start driving a lot of traction. From The Hunger Games, Twilight, Star Wars, and the British Imperial War Museum to a growing number of brands; it looks like social media can claim a growing part of driving the needle.  But what most are forgetting while looking at the award winning entrees or the mind boggling engagement figures is something disturbingly simple: it is not magic. It is hard work.

Social media success, and its golden unicorn “going viral”, is not based on luck, on a throw of the dice, or on a beneficial line up of some obscure stars and planetary constellations. It is based on careful planning, iron metrics, dazzling creativity, and a perfect understanding of the sociologic –and technical semantics of the social web.

It requires hybrid people capable to find seamless interaction between on- and offline components of a campaign, it requires access to influencers and amplifiers who can give the initiative enough boost to give it enough velocity. It requires specialized analytical brains to sift through data, and to translate these figures into actionable intelligence.  It requires people ahead of the curve.

Success does not happen overnight, it’s not based on luck. As with most pieces of a business, success is directly linked to skill, empowerment and passion.  Brands and agencies capable of harnessing the best talent, and setting up a suitable multi-lingual cross border operational structure see their initial investment returned in tangible results.  It starts with investment, it ends with the harvest. As every farmer knows: What you do not sow, you cannot reap

All too often, the wishful thinking is that social media can be bolted on as an afterthought. Reality is that it is a hard fought métier, requiring deep empathetic skills, innovative thinking and an uncanny ability to spot the right touch points within the target audience.

Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder)wrote all you’ll ever need to know on the possibilities to drive real ROI through social media in his book Social Media ROI. But before the cash machines will spit mountains of 4 digit bills, before sales will skyrock, before reputations will turn around… investments will have to be made in the very bone structures of brands and agencies. Going to war without modifying your army profoundly, without new weapon systems, without strategic experts that have inside knowledge on how the other side operates, you’re in for a certain Waterloo.

The first prize is a fancy car (well, a hybrid one with limited impact on the environment that is), the second prize is a set of steak knives. The third prize is simple: you’re out of business.  Darwin was right: evolve, or die…


Marco Tempest – and dying unicorns

The augmented reality of techno-magic

I admit, it must be this process of becoming a middle-(r)aged man. But I am blasé.  Going to many conferences, listening to the very core of ultimate thinkers, seeing the authors of my favorite books on stage… I love it. But I see that it becomes increasingly difficult to “wow” me, and that I become more and more critical on how people perform and behave.

What I miss most these days is freshness, passion, and a childish fire to share the excitement. If I look at my corporate world: what is the point in trying to get the message across if people, client and/or agency side, get not childishly on fire around a concept or an idea. I learned one thing:  If people in that mythic meeting room without windows are not nodding after a project is unveiled, if you do not see the smiles and twinkling eyes… the project will not fly. Projects need passion. Projects deserve passion. Passion and this innocent fire-within to share are the magic ingredients to make a good project sing, and rock. Passion is magic.

But like unicorns, real magic is hard to find these days. Most of us spend way too much time looking at PowerPoint slides that look like they are made by the Spanish Inquisition, and that are brought by the corporate equivalent of zombies: death inside, but still walking.

Some speakers at #LeWeb brought their keynotes and product demos with about as much passion as I can muster to set out the garbage in a hailstorm. In walks Marco Tempest. Tempest is not a corporate guy. He is a magician, bitten by modern technology. A guy re-inventing his world. A world that is ruled by silly card tricks, a million years old, and black-clad guys sawing curvy underdressed girls in two on stage.

Tempest has burning passion to spare. You see the people shifting from hanging in their chairs to full attention just as he walks in and smiles. A smile that awakes an audience, dear Marco, is worth a fortune.  And then he talks… captivating his audience every single second. Explaining on how he uses bleeding edge technology like augmented reality, crowdsourcing, camera tracking, interactive lighting and cross border social media to give his projects body and existence.

Marco awoke the boy in me. I’m including a video of Tempest, so you can judge for yourself. One sentence of his keynote will be my 2012 motto… “Believe in your magic. If you do not believe in your own magic, how do you expect other people to believe in you?”

That is why we do not see unicorns anymore… we stopped believing in them…

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